Preaching Pointers from Romans

 |  October 13, 2017

So, you have prayed and sought the Lord’s will for your next preaching endeavor and you are at peace that it is a series from the book of Romans or possibly to preach systematically through the book of Romans. You may be wondering if there are key points to consider while preaching from the book of Romans. Furthermore, if there is someone who can give some practical tips for preaching from the book of Romans. Here are some practical pointers for preaching from Romans that have developed as I have spent time preaching systematically through this magnificent book.

Point 1: Take your position under the authority of the text.

First, there is a proper perspective for the exegesis of the book of Romans, or any other book of the Bible for that matter. The only spiritually healthy way to view the text is to be under the authority of the biblical text. We fall short if we come to the text with the mindset that we stand in authority over the text. Let the text have the ultimate authority and the text can be honorably presented. This is particularly important when looking at the book of Romans. There is a tendency for the preacher to look at a passage and approach the preparation of a sermon from the passage with the perspective that he has some innate sense of authority over the text. This is not the case. The preacher must first submit under the authority of the text before he presents the passage to a congregation with the goal of them submitting under the text. With all the theological implications that flow out of the presentation of the truths found in the book, this is especially true when preaching from Romans. Do not expect the congregation to submit under the authority of a biblical text that you, the preacher, have not first submitted under.

Point 2: Know who is being addressed and what is being written about them.

Second, there are several aspects regarding context that must be considered. As the letter progresses, there are different pronouns used with regard to what is being written. This is important when looking at the different persons or groups of persons addressed at different points throughout the book. For example, in chapter 1, it is important to identify who the “you” pronoun refers to beginning in verse 8 and who the “them” pronoun refers to beginning in verse 19. This pronoun identification will be an important aspect regarding the context of what is being written by Paul, and more importantly, to whom he refers in the statements being made. If you miss the addressee or the subject of what is being said in the letter, you may miss a crucial facet of the context of the letter. There is a wealth of exegetical information to be found in the original Greek language of the book of Romans. However, whether you have a working knowledge of the Greek language or not, understand that there is much meaning to be found in the identification of the pronouns throughout the book.

Point 3: Look for the rhetorical devices used throughout the book, as they are fundamental for a proper understanding of the text.

Third, there are rhetorical devices used throughout the book of Romans. These must not be overlooked. Note that there are many rhetorical questions found throughout the book, which function to set the premise for the argument that accompanies these questions. Consider the number of times “what then?”, “what shall we say then?”, or some derivative is used throughout the book. These questions are posed in a rhetorical fashion to address a specific issue. There is a tendency to read over the questions and miss the weight that each has on the argument being presented. Carefully evaluate the function of rhetorical questions and other rhetorical devices used throughout the book.

Point 4: Read the whole book through many times before beginning a series through the book or any portion of the book.

Lastly, the continuity of the book cannot be overlooked. There are 64 logical inferential conjunctions found in the book of Romans such as “therefore” and “so”. What does this tell us? It tells us that the book must be viewed with consideration being given to the continuity of the book as a harmonious unit. Romans is no place for one to “pick and choose” the verses or passages that are relevant to support a presumptive theological viewpoint. Just follow the flow of the text and the theological implications will be clearly revealed with the illumination of the Holy Spirit. As preachers, we must read the book through from beginning to end multiple times to get a sense of the flow of the argument presented in the letter. Before preaching from the book in any series-type approach, the preacher must commit to view individual passages as they relate to the surrounding context and not as stand-alone texts isolated from the contiguous context. All of those logical inferential conjunctions are there for a reason.

Remember, Romans is a very important book for us to preach well. Luther said of the book, “[Romans] is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. It can never be read or pondered too much, and the more it is dealt with the more precious it becomes, and the better it tastes.”[1]Luther, “Preface to the Epistle to the Romans” (1522). Certainly, these pointers are not an exhaustive list of things to address when preaching through the book of Romans. However, these pointers have proven to be very useful for me in my effort to preach systematically through the book of Romans in order to provide my hearers a taste of daily bread. I hope that these pointers are helpful to you as well.

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